120 Movies Over 12 Months

I have lots of massive holes in my film knowledge, from really big classics to cult classics to some films that have changed something about cinema began some cultural conversation. Anyway, I decided to come up with a list that plugged some of those huge gaps and to deliberately go after films I've always wanted to watch. 

I came up with 120 of those films and will try to watch 10 every month starting from August. I'll update this page as I watch them! 

Here's the list: 

1.     The General (1926)

2.     Sherlock Jr. (1924)

3.     Metropolis (1927)

4.     Steamboat Bill, Jr (1928)

5.     The Cameraman (1928)

6.     Top Hat (1935)

7.     Gone With the Wind (1939)

8.     Casablanca (1942)

9.     Cat People (1942)

10.  Double Indemnity (1944)

11.  Germany Year Zero (1948)

12.  All about Eve (1950)

13.  An American in Paris (1951)

14.  Ikiru (1952)

15.  Othello (1952)

16.  House of Wax (1953)

17.  Rififi (1955)

18.  The Ladykillers (1955)

19.  The Quatermass Xperiement (1955)

20.  Forbidden Planet (1956)

21.  The Killing (1956)

22.  The Searchers (1956)

23.  Paths of Glory (1957)

24.  The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

25.  Ben Hur (1959)

26.  Some Like It Hot (1959)

27.  400 Blows (1959)

28.  Black Orpheus (1959)

29.  The Apartment (1960)

30.  Jules and Jim (1962)

31.  Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

32.  Knife in the Water (1962)

33.  The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

34.  8 ½ (1963)

35.  Shock Corridor (1963)

36.  High and Low (1963)

37.  The Insect Woman (1963)

38.  Zulu (1964)

39.  In Cold Blood (1967)

40.  Easy Rider (1969)

41.  Kes (1969)

42.  Midnight Cowboy (1969)

43.  The Wild Bunch (1969)

44.  Bananas (1971)

45.  The Beguiled (1971)

46.  Vanishing Point (1971)

47.  The Last Picture Show (1971)

48.  McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

49.  The Decameron (1971)

50.  The Getaway (1972)

51.  Tales from the Crypt (1972)

52.  The Night Stalker (1972)

53.  American Graffiti (1972)

54.  Paper Moon (1973)

55.  Sleeper (1973)

56.  Dark Star (1974)

57.  A Woman Under the Influence (1974)

58.  Murder on the Orient Express (1974)

59.  Young Frenkenstein (1974)

60.  Arabian Nights (1974)

61.  Barry Lyndon (1975)

62.  Logan’s Run (1976)

63.  Who Can Kill a Child (1976)

64.  The Deer Hunter (1978)

65.  The Jerk (1979)

66.  The Warriors (1979)

67.  The Elephant Man (1980)

68.  The Fog (1980)

69.  The Long Good Friday (1980)

70.  Blow Out (1981)

71.  Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982)

72.  Poltergeist (1982)

73.  Creepshow (1982)

74.  Risky Business (1983)

75.  The Dead Zone (1983)

76.  This is Spinal Tap (1984)

77.  Sixteen Candles (1984)

78.  Amadeus (1984)

79.  To Live and Die in LA (1984)

80.  The Color Purple (1985)

81.  Manhunter (1986)

82.  Pretty in Pink (1986)

83.  Fatal Attraction (1987)

84.  Akira (1988)

85.  Do The Right Thing (1989)

86.  When Harry Met Sally (1989)

87.  Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

88.  Barton Fink (1991)

89.  Naked Lunch (1991)

90.  Point Break (1991)

91.  Carlito’s Way (1993)

92.  Shindler’s List (1993)

93.  True Lies (1994)

94.  Citizen Ruth (1996)

95.  Waiting for Guffman (1996)

96.  Crash (1996)

97.  Nil by Mouth (1997)

98.  The Thin Red Line (1998)

99.  Summer of Sam (1999)

100.                 The Virgin Suicides (1999)

101.                 Eyes Wide Shut (1999)

102.                 The Insider (1999)

103.                 Best in Show (2000)

104.                 Sexy Beast (2000)

105.                 Mulholland Drive (2001)

106.                 Adaptation (2002)

107.                 Hidden (2005)

108.                 Apocalypto (2006)

109.                 Marie Antoinette (2006)

110.                 Time Crimes (2007)

111.                 Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

112.                 Hunger (2008)

113.                 A Prophet (2009)

114.                 World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

115.                 Point Blank (2010)

116.                 Tyrannosaur (2011)

117.                 Holy Motors (2012)

118.                 Snow Piercer (2013)

119.                 Goodnight Mommy (2012)

120.                 Cop Car (2015)

 

Some Holiday Podcast Recommendations

I love putting together recommendations of podcasts for for friends, so I decided to write a quick list of my favourites in case you need some audio company in long journeys or idle breaks during the end-of-year festivities.

You can find most of these on the Podcast app on your phone!

This American Life

Maybe the best non-fiction podcast out there – quite possibly the first one. This is a must-listen for fans of non-fiction or podcasts.

Episode: 597 One Last Thing Before I Go

https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/597/one-last-thing-before-i-go

 

Reply All

It tells real stories about things they find in the internet. Always insightful, funny and emotional.

Episode: #79 Boy in Photo

 

Pod F Tompcast

Comedian Paul F Tompkins is one of the funniest performers and writers I’ve ever come across. This podcast is his solo project and a truly impressive mix of improvisation and writing.

Episode: Pick any! They are all great!

 

Heavyweight

A podcast about people who want to say something to someone, or reconnect in some way.

Episode: #7 Julia – this may be the best single podcast episode of the year.

 

You Must Remember This

A show about old-Hollywood and its stories. It sounds boring but is genuinely one of the most captivating podcasts out there!

Episode: Check out their Manson Series.

 

Cracked

Superb podcast for in-depth and fun thinking about pop-culture.

Episode: 7 Things To Do In A Time Machine (Other Than Killing Hitler)

 

On Being

An interview show that discusses matters of spirituality, life, politics and activism. It puts out very thoughtful conversations with guests that vary from Michael Sheen to Paulo Coelho.

Episode: Guest Michael Longley  

 

Comedy Bang Bang

This is a weekly improvisation podcast. It always stars a guest and one or two characters who come into the studio. Week by week it can be hit and miss, but overall it is definitely worth a listen.

Episode: #338 Be my guest! Literally!

 

Revisionist History

Podcast by the author Malcolm Gladwell, goes into past events, individuals or ideas and thinks about about with a fresh perspective. Like most of his work, this is a very thoughtful and stimulating podcast.

Episode: Hallelujah – it explores the journey of the Leonard Cohen song, from unknown album track to to stable of pop culture.

 

TYCI

A podcast run by the Glasgow-based feminist collective. It’s a varied show and has lots in it for you to pick from. A significant presence in the Scottish podcast scene.

Episode: Free Pride, Stranger Things, and the Suffragettes.

 

How Aretha Makes Me Cry

Sting is on stage, in front of a full house. He explains that Luciano Pavarotti is unable to make it for his performance, a delay which was later revealed to be caused by a mix-up at the airport. He says that another singer has agreed to take his place at a moment’s notice, to sing the song he was originally going to perform, Nessun Dorma.

That performer is Aretha Franklin.

This is one of the most unlikely alternatives. Sure, she had a good voice but was it enough to perform something that required so much consistency and discipline? Sting throws to her and looks visibly anxious. So does Aretha. When the spotlight hits her you can see something that has not been in display for a long time; doubt. You can see that single mother with a brash and stubborn attitude from her early performances, 30 years prior. You see someone who is not sure if they belong but will try regardless. You see someone with something to lose.

As the performance starts the camera cuts to Sting who has both of his hands covering his mouth, like a prayer motion, in anticipation. Aretha starts singing, and a few seconds later you realise that she is nailing it. The audience listens in awe. Time stops. Everyone knows they are hearing something special.

I get goose bumps every time I watch that video. All the elements come together in such a way that I can’t help but to be fundamentally touched. The anticipation, presentation, lighting, instruments, voice and even her life story all merge together into art. It hits me like a giant wave of feeling and synchronicity.

Film banks on that feeling. When certain elements are brought together in a very specific way, they can click together in the audiences’ mind as a force that cannot be stopped. Think of the first 5 minutes of Pixar’s UP; piano music, bright colours, cute drawings, editing, recognition of these themes in real life all come together and impact the audience in a way that is bigger than the sum of its parts. No one is watching UP and complementing the edited cross-dissolve between two frames in the montage. Instead, they are reminiscing about love, life and loss. Film brings different elements together so that you can no longer distinguish the borderlines between them.

My practice focuses on documentary filmmaking which, I would argue, does exactly the opposite. Non-fiction narratives attempt to deconstruct, they take something we all know and have set feelings towards and break it apart in order to create that moment of insight and emotion. Documentary takes a massive picture and says ‘ok, now look at this detail, and this other one, and one more over here’. Eventually you are seeing this very familiar scene in a completely new way. You see the parts that make the whole.

This was my intention with ‘The Lifespan of Utopias’, my degree show piece. We all know most of the elements this film sets up at the start; Dundee, Hilltown, Tay Bridge, Multi-Storey residencies, V&A, the Waterfront, the history of the city, etc… These are merged together in our mind, we all have a rough understanding of their place and journey in history. What I have attempted to do is pick that apart, look at elements we didn’t think of putting together or didn’t know applied to this situation. I hope the audience can find that moment of insight once things have been picked apart, once they see those familiar scenes with slightly different eyes.

Fiction masterfully builds in the hope of insight and recognition. Documentary dismantles with the practice of research and subversion.

Worth a Bag of Couscous

Kamal greets us at the door of his house, a 10x10ft shack in what is known as ‘The Jungle’ – a temporary settlement for refugees and migrants in Calais, France. He apologizes for the graffiti on his front door, which reads ‘Kamal Smile More’.

“I don’t know who did this, I don’t get it… I always smile!”

We came to Calais to shoot a short documentary, so we visited many different people around the camp in the hope of, having gotten their permission, coming back the next day for interviews.

As we drink some orange juice inside the house, he tells us the camp is mostly divided by nationalities; Kamal and most of his neighbors are from Pakistan. There has been some tension between some of the camps, especially since one of the groups started selling alcohol in the Jungle, making nighttime particularly dangerous.

One of the men who lived in the same house sat at the corner staring at our plastic cups, every time one of us finished our juice he would come over with a friendly smile and fill it up to the brim. Four men lived in this house and they were all welcoming and generous with what they had.

Throughout the day we kept having this same experience of being welcomed with an all-giving hospitality I have only experienced in some of the shantytowns in São Paulo. Friendliness and a self-deprecating sense of humor seemed to be a common feature. One of the residents bragged as he showed us the areal antennae on the roof of his shack, only to burst out laughing when he said that all he needs now is a plasma TV and some electricity.

Though it would be easy to tell a lighthearted narrative of things going on in the camp, they would dwarf in comparison to the depth and scale of the humanitarian crisis. One of the things we noticed is the constant fear that seems to follow the women in the camp. As we shadowed a charity giving out supplies for part of the day, one of the workers was called into a shack, in there she found a young woman who could not leave the house as she felt under constant threat of the people living around her. She asked the charity worker if she could just stay in there with her for a little while, because she misses the company.

Many of the women and children have been moved to a Government facility up the road, but there are still a number of them who do not want to be separated from their husbands or brothers. As the charity went into the camp with sanitary products, they made sure to meet a couple of women behind tents, out of sight from everyone else, before they distributed the rest – these women spoke quickly and quietly, before rushing away with as much as they could carry.

The Jungle was a pretty big camp at the start, but it has gotten even bigger with the recent closure of two other camps in Calais. There is no way to know the exact number of residents but the figure is just over one thousand according to most estimations. This overcrowding means that supplies are running low and the portable toilets in the camp are rare and unsafe to use. According to some of the charity workers this has made for a fertile ground of viruses and diseases.

In the midst of all of that, of course, are people trying to escape from difficulty, violence and war in their own countries. A man from Darfur explained that his country ‘almost isn’t there anymore’, as it was torn apart by war and conflict. He is now in Calais, hoping to move to England as he already speaks English. In the meantime, however, he is learning French and applying to settlement in France – in fact, next week he has a meeting in Paris for an interview so his status can be decided.

This seemed like a much more complex picture than the one we saw portrayed in the news, where these people are often described as opportunistic and uncivilized law-breakers. It is no wonder that mainstream media offers such two-dimensional observations of the situation, as we were having a conversation with the man from Darfur, a journalist walks into the camp with one of his arms above his head waving a bag of couscous. As some of the residents approached him, he suggested they let him take photos in exchange for that bag of food. The deal was, of course, accepted. Within ten minutes the journalist was in and out – most likely with a story ready.

There was a genuine sense of fatigue when it came to reporters and cameras, the general feeling is that they come in and tell the story the want to tell, with little consideration for the complexities of what is actually happening. The man from Darfur is not trying to get across to England by any means; he is following the legal process (even if that offers him very little hope of getting in the country), and trying to adapt to staying in France as a Plan B. At the same time, he could never come back to his home where he would be surrounded by death and violence, so perhaps turning to unsafe ways to getting in the UK is not completely out of the picture, if push comes to shove. This is a complex story, one with many sides and considerations, a story that couldn’t be found with a bag of couscous.

The legendary documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles once said that documentaries must always strive to: ‘humanise, humanise, humanise’. We realised that being at the camp for a weekend, with a camera around our necks, wouldn’t let us understand the people for who they are so we chose to not shoot that documentary and just get to know them instead. Most likely we would come up with a short film that ignored all the complexities of these stories for the sake of existing. There is a good film to be made about the real and tragic stories at Calais, but that film should be made by people with a more constant presence in the area and are not there for a weekend, who earn their trust and don’t take full ownership of the stories.

A film that finds the real people in the big story, and not the big story in the people.